President Kennedy: UND committed to advocate for raises in next biennium

I’d like to address a question brought forward to me by faculty and staff: will there be raises in the fiscal year starting July 1, 2018?

As UND set its plan for the 2017-19 biennium to reflect the reality of state funding levels and the guidelines from the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) in place in the Spring of 2017, it was important to create stability in a time of change. We decided to make no further cuts, but the result was no raises in either year of the biennium, including the upcoming academic year.

Recent changes by the SBHE would allow for the use of appropriated dollars to provide merit raises, but only to the extent that they were being funded with documented reallocation or cuts elsewhere in the budget or with new funds generated from enrollment growth, which did not occur at the University level. Therefore, proceeding with pay increases for the coming year across the University would only be possible if we went through another round of cuts.

UND President Mark Kennedy

UND President Mark Kennedy

We are left with no easy choices. As painful as it is to decide that we proceed with the original plan for the biennium that no merit increases can be provided for 2018-19, that is the path with which we are left. I very much wish we could reach a different conclusion. The impact on our faculty and staff weighs heavily on my mind.

It is inappropriate to blame the North Dakota Legislature for our fate and I sincerely apologize for ever doing so. The University of North Dakota holds immense appreciation for the support provided by the Legislature.

We will have to see what North Dakota’s economy has in store for us, but I am optimistic. My optimism rests on the cohesive way in which so many at UND have worked together to energetically pursue the strategic goals we set out for ourselves in our OneUND Strategic Plan. We will outline both the many accomplishments to date and priorities for the next six months in the next issue of UND Today. Much has been achieved, even as great steps remain ahead. The more diligently we pursue to achieve the plan we have before us, the more we will make our own luck.

As we peer into the future for the next legislative session, please know that our highest priority will be to deliver merit pay increases in the next biennium. Yes, UND will be seeking funding for capital projects to advance our recently completed campus master plan. We will be working with many on the need to invest in the state’s research universities, UND and NDSU, as the best path to diversifying the state’s economy to avoid these cyclical swings. But at the top of our priority list is being able to reward those upon who the success of this university rests – you, our faculty and staff.

I am sorry I do not have more immediate positive news. Thank you for your dedication to the success of the University.  As OneUND, I remain confident that brighter days are ahead.

 — Mark Kennedy, President